On September 1, in the middle of a massive and record breaking Southern California heatwave, hundreds of people took to the streets in front of the Federal Building and detention facility in downtown Los Angeles. They carried signs, chanted, marched and held a press conference to protest the threats that Trump has been making against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). At the rally were groups like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, UNITE HERE, ACCE, ANSWER LA, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and many others including other immigrant rights groups and student Dreamer groups.
Trump is supposed to announce on September 5 his proposed changes to the DACA program. Many people are bracing for him to announce either a full cancellation of the program or negative alterations. During the presidential race some of Trump’s bread and butter signals to the rightwing focused on attacks against immigrant people. He famously referred to immigrants as criminals and rapists and attacked the DACA program, promising to carry out more deportations and massively expand the border wall.
Therefore when White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sept. 1 said Trump “Loves people and he wants to make sure that this decision is done correctly,” it was received as either a bad case of naivety, amnesia or just a bald-faced lie.
It’s estimated that some 800,000 immigrant youth are currently covered by DACA. If the program were to be cancelled it’s not clear exactly what would happen but it’s assumed that they would no longer be able to keep their jobs, devastating millions of additional people who depend on that income. A vast amount of wealth would be essentially extracted from the immigrant
community, shrinking the economy as a whole and creating a ripple effect into the other sectors of the already strapped working class. Deportations and homelessness would increase as the protections are lifted.
DACA, an Obama era executive order, was a major reform won by the strength and determination of the immigrants’ rights movement over years of struggle. Immigrant youth, and immigrant women and LGBTQ people in particular played key leadership roles fighting for equality during the period of the Obama administration, which had deported more immigrants than any other previous presidential administration.
The protest in Los Angeles and similar ones happening around the country are critical given the severity of what’s at stake. As Jorge Galindo, an activist and organizer for the immigrant rights movement for about seven years in Los Angeles told Liberation at the protest, “Congress is packed against immigrants, unfortunately. We do need people to speak out, we do need people to advocate for folks that really represent the community. This is L.A. we have one of the biggest immigrant populations in the U.S. and at the same time we don’t have the representatives that are in office doing something about what they promise all the time that they are going to do. Because the mayor can come by, any representative can come by and say that the city is going to look out for you but at the same time there is no system change there or no actual progress”.